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Applying insect transgenic technology: Scientific and regulatory experiences*


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    Presented as a Plenary Lecture for the International Congress of Insect Biotechnology and Industry (ICIBI) Conference, 19–24 August 2007, Daegu, Korea.

Thomas A. Miller, Department of Entomology, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521, USA. Email:


Biotechnology affords opportunities to develop new tools to treat pest and disease problems. When a given pest or disease problem has no satisfactory cure or treatment, usually only a technological breakthrough can provide one, but the process whereby this happens can be undefined and unpredictable. Furthermore, it is difficult to predict which methods will work at the outset, meaning that it is also difficult for funding agencies to determine which proposals to support. When a proposed solution is new and may involve genetic manipulation, it may also be hard for the public, as represented by regulatory agencies, to accept. In addition, when the application market is small, funding is modest. When the problem is major but periodic, as in the case of migratory locusts, funding, interest and attention cannot be easily found, focused or sustained. It is only when a problem is severe and economically compelling, such as Pierce's Disease of grapevine in southern California, that it is possible to concentrate funding, attention and sustained interest long enough to have a chance of finding a lasting solution.